A week after it went into effect, Nevada faced a major problem with a new law that legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Demand for pot was so high, and logistics to move weed so limited, that Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) was forced to declare a state of emergency to fix the state’s pot law.
A bargain reached between legal pot advocates and Nevada’s powerful liquor industry was the problem. Under the new law, pot could only be transported by licensed alcohol distributors. If pot was going to be the new competition for booze, the people who make liquor wanted their fair share. The math made sense, but relatively few of the distributors applied to move the now-legal pot.
The Nevada Tax Commission approved a resolution expanding the list of logistics companies that can transport marijuana. Sandoval, who never liked the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, signed off on the order, and pot is now flowing to Nevada marijuana retailers.
So, Nevada solved that problem. What else could possibly go wrong? Plenty, according to a national group that agreed with Gov. Sandoval that it would be a mistake to legalize recreational marijuana.
The anti-pot group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, warned Nevada at the end of July that its marijuana logistics problem was only a minor glitch compared to the long-term result of letting people spark a doobie just for the fun of the buzz.
SAM president Kevin Sabet said Nevada is in danger of “serious unintended consequences” if the state doesn’t make it tougher to get legal marijuana edibles and concentrates, and improve what he sees as a lax governmental tracking system.
“We think Nevada should be very, very concerned,” Sabet told reporters on a media teleconference July 31. “The cost of legalization will far outweigh the benefits for the residents of Nevada in the long run.”
Nevada officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that SAM has always opposed legalized marijuana and said Sabet’s argument shows he and the group still don’t understand the law and the state regulations that are a part of it.
“The governor has continuously called for a well-regulated, restricted and respected recreational marijuana industry in Nevada, and the Department has carried that charge every step of the way as we’ve implemented this program,” Tax Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said.
However, based on Colorado’s experience with legal weed, the regulation of pot products sold in stores may be the least of Nevada’s problems to come.
Colorado voters approved legalizing the recreational use of cannabis in 2012. People started toking to their hearts’ content in January 2014.
Over the past three years, Colorado officials announced July 19, the state has collected more than a half-billion dollars in tax revenue due to medical and recreational cannabis sales.